Saturday, 5 September 2015

Review: Blood Slave

The reason I read a lot of urban fantasy is because I'm always curious to know what other authors are doing in my preferred genre. Sometimes it's the unknown/independent authors who have the brightest or most unique ideas. That being said, I wanted more from Kathleen Collins's latest Realm Walker novel, Blood Slave. I started the series this week (they're not long novels and I'm a very fast reader), and while the characters are good and the story moves at a decent clip, I wanted more secrets, more drama, more chances for the characters to prove they were fallible. I'm not saying the books are bad, not at all, but each book, and this one more than the others, left me in the aura of anti-climax. Minor spoilers ahead.

Love Juliana's badass pose and the flickering shades of people.
Can she find a killer in a town where the basest desires are allowed to run free?

There are zombies in the Dead Zone and Juliana Norris is sent to take care of the problem. And for there to be zombies, there had to be bodies. When vampires are found to be the culprits, Juliana is sent undercover in the red light district of Kansas City. Lying to her mate, Thomas Kendrick, isn’t something she wants to do, but she’s in another vampire’s territory and Thomas would not be pleased. Besides, she’s more than capable of doing the job and she needs to prove it to everyone. Most of all herself.

Charles Morgan is in control of the Kansas City area, making a rich living off his various enterprises. Juliana goes undercover at the strip club Lust and gets sucked into his dark, decadent world. More victims turn up and the Agency is positive they’ve got their man, but Juliana is not so sure. When the Agency refuses to listen, she reluctantly turns to Thomas for help. He intervenes but finds Juliana unaware of the danger she is in and discovers she may just be too deep for him to save.

The book picks up where it's sequel, Death's Daughter, left off, mostly dealing with the aftermath of a great deception that cost main character, Juliana Norris, someone she cared about. That was actually where the problems started for me. The death of this character should not only have had sharper shocks than it did at the time of the event, but the sting didn't seem to linger as heavily as it should have. I wanted to see both main characters more rattled and reckless than they were. Juliana, who showed the most emotion, didn't complete this particular arch, which makes me hope it will be covered in later books.

The story itself was interesting, as all risky, undercover stories are. There were some good plot turns and twists, though the strength seemed to be in the build-up, the confrontation ultimately falling short when it mattered. At least, that was how I saw it. The main antagonist had an excellent power that could have seriously wrecked things for Juliana and her mate, Thomas. But that extra step wasn't taken. I just didn't feel the sense of danger that I wanted to. And there was little to no battle at the end, which I was truly hoping for.

Which leads me to the characters. Juliana is explained to be a tough, headstrong woman who can take care of herself. And she is. I love her attitude, her defiance, her leadership, etc. She's a good characters. But I wanted her to show her combat chops. She carries a sword and knives, so why not put her in a situation where I see what she can really do with them? Can she take what she dishes out? I'm not saying she has to be Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, but I wanted to see her get into a scrap, and struggle to get out of it. There was a very Mary Sue feel to Juliana, who also seemed to have the answers to everything.

As for Thomas, my issue with him was the creepy almost-stalker like obsession he has with Juliana. It seemed a little too intense for my liking, and I would have liked to know more about the Council he's essentially in command of. I also would have liked him to vamp out a little more. But I'm a sucker for bloodthirsty vampires. No pun intended.

The dialogue is easy flowing and there were some truly great concepts in Blood Slave, though I did think things were explained away too quickly. Not a fault at all, it's just my personal preference to have a little more mystery before something is blatantly revealed to me.

So did I like the book? Yes. I got some ideas from it for my own writing, and would encourage other urban fantasy fans to give it a shot. The books are evenly paced and quick reads, something to enjoy on the weekend with a cool drink. We're still saying it's summer, right? Good.


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